I’ve thought about blogging, in the way I thought about asking a boy to my senior prom–with much trepidation, procrastination, and a funny feeling in my stomach that hovered between excitement and nausea. And I finally did it, on my usual late-bloomer schedule.
As a writer, I’m obsessed with beginnings. If someone hands me a book, the first thing I do is read the opening line to see if it sings, punches me in the gut, or just limply shakes my hand–ugh! As a mother, I’m similarly obsessed–there are all the “firsts” of infancy and early childhood, of course, but the beginnings I really crave are the new days, the chances to start over, to maybe begin to set right the mistakes I’ve made.
So I thought if I ever got up the nerve to write a blog–because it feels like sheer nerve to send my soul out across cyberspace with the assumption that my ramblings might matter–I would try to begin in a blaze of glory, with a singing punch to the stomach.
Instead, I’m just starting, on a crazily average day. In the course of this oh-so-Monday, my three year old managed, among other accomplishments, to dismantle his entire room (including toppling furniture), remove the windpipe-sized tires from a toy John Deere tractor and use them for a chipmunk impersonation, and paint the soles of his feet green. By the time he got to the green feet, I was DONE. As I held him over the sink, watching green water run down the drain and seeing red, I suddenly realized what a hypocrite I was being.
I’m a writer. I create. No one tells me what or how to write. I write for myself, for the stories that bubble up inside until my mind and heart can’t contain them. My urge to create is no more legitimate than that of this small wild boy I helped create. He honestly wanted to paint with his feet. And why not? So I choked down my compulsive need for cleanliness and order, and told him that feet-painting was a great idea, if he would just let me put the paper on the floor instead of kung-fu fighting the easel.
There is magic in the ordinary, and even in the exasperating. For a magical half-hour or so, I watched my two boys paint their feet and walk on paper, leaving smudged traces of their three- and five-year old selves. I watched with mounting fear as they began to paint their hands and legs. But they were smiling like angels, like paint-daubed Pictish imps, glowing with the sheer joy of creation.
At night, during my precious writing hour, the youngest boy in my story, a minor character, declined to behave. He appeared unbidden, acted out, said things he wasn’t supposed to, threatened to steal the show. So I watched him talk, walk around in the story a little, leave his footprints.
With small children, writing is a challenge. I wonder how I can be a mommy and a writer. There is never enough time for anything. But watching green, red, yellow and blue footprints appear on white paper, like words on a blank page, I begin to realize that maybe I need to be a writer in order to be a mother, and vice versa. I wonder if we are all echoing some divine spark that sets in us the need to create.
My boys are sleeping, a little older than they were this morning. My story is a little longer. And I finally got up the nerve to ask this blog to dance.